/ 'Bolt Wars': Rock climbing in conflict on Radio4

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subalpine - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to subalpine: Thinking Allowed on BBC Radio 4, 16:00 today: 'Bolt Wars': Lisa Bogardus spent 16 months researching and observing the rock climbing world. She describes a battle for the cliffs in which climbers clash about the need to reduce risk and danger.
In reply to subalpine: ..and the Paper Abstract on which her interview today is based:

The Bolt Wars
A Social Worlds Perspective on Rock Climbing and Intragroup Conflict
Lisa M. Bogardus


'Subculture research on alternative sports has focused on the seemingly inevitable commodification and media co-option of these activities and their internal status hierarchies. In this article, I examine the neglected issue of how participants define the informal “rules” of a self-governed sport. Specifically, I am interested in intragroup conflict among long-time traditional rock climbers over the legitimacy of practices that reduce risk. I spent sixteen months conducting participant observation in multiple locations in the rock climbing world, collected seventeen in-depth interviews, and consulted a wide range of secondary material. Drawing on social worlds theory to analyze the sociohistorical sources of competing ideologies, the participants’ claimsmaking activities, and their strategic actions to maintain and challenge informal rules, I provide a more nuanced and complex picture of social change in alternative sports. I also demonstrate the value of the social worlds perspective for understanding the interactive construction of social worlds and participants in constant flux.'

...so there you have it. Pseud's Corner material?
benka - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to subalpine: is this not 15 years too late?
winhill - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:
> (In reply to subalpine) ...Specifically, I am interested in intragroup conflict among long-time traditional rock climbers over the legitimacy of practices that reduce risk.

Reduce risk?

I'm not sure she's grasped the subject.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:
>
> I spent sixteen months conducting participant observation in multiple > > >locations in the rock climbing world, collected seventeen in-depth >interviews, and consulted a wide range of secondary material.

I don't really speak social science. Does this mean she spent 16 months climbing, hanging out with her friends in bars and surfing the web?


toad - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com: Skim reading the article (you can dowload it for free as a pdf) - It's US focussed, and she seems a reasonably experienced climber herself - interestingly as well as climbing and volunteering with US climbing groups she used internet forums as a means of gathering data. internet/social media and sport is listed as a research interest. Wonder if she sleazes around here?

I don't think the paper is that relevant to the UK because it is quite so adventure/wilderness vs recreation/sport focussed, but it was an interesting read for me 'cos I don't know anything about US climbing ethics. But you do have to get over the social science language.
toad - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com)
> [...]
>
> I don't really speak social science. Does this mean she spent 16 months climbing, hanging out with her friends in bars and surfing the web?

it would appear so.
PeteC - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to subalpine: Looks like a candidate for the Ig-Nobel Prize
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:
> In this article, I examine the neglected issue of how participants define the informal “rules” of a self-governed sport. Specifically, I am interested in intragroup conflict among long-time traditional rock climbers over the legitimacy of practices that reduce risk.

I read the abstract too, and it reminded me of a lame-ish sort of joke I made on my blog six years ago! "A very geeky climbers' post. All non-climbers can safely ignore unless they are doing anthropological studies into self-regulation and conflict within non-organised sporting sub-cultures." http://lightfromthenorth.blogspot.fi/2007/07/superior-ethics-or-littering.html

The abstract isn't really pseuds corner material, it's just exactly the way you are expected right if you want to have your article published in journal. The article is aimed at other professional anthropologists/sociologists I guess. Just like when you write for a climbing mag you don't need to explain all the terms you use.
In reply to subalpine: Is anyone else here a regular Thinking Allowed listener, and if so, do they join me in thinking that Laurie Taylor is most annoying presenter on Radio? I'm convinced that 99% of his "that reminds of when I..." stories are completely made up; and it seems that if you didn't grow up in the 1950s you never get ANY of his "pop" culture references. He seems to have stopped paying attention in the early 60s.
Ramblin dave - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com)
> [...]

> The article is aimed at other professional anthropologists/sociologists I guess. Just like when you write for a climbing mag you don't need to explain all the terms you use.

True, if you told most normal people that you stuck a couple of big nuts under the overlap and then cranked over it onto the slab before thrutching up a chossy chimney at the top then it'd make quite a lot less sense to them than that abstract...
toad - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to TobyA: I NEVER thought I'de ever say this...

but I prefer Melvin Bragg
In reply to subalpine:

Oh dear. This is a US debate, not a UK one, and we don't call it adventure climbing.

... and we never tried to place bolts on the lead.

Alan
toad - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to subalpine: This is horrible. Not her fault per se - she's not a brilliant speaker to a general audience, but it's giving the impression that this is a UK issue. LT's basically let her give her pet conference presentation without sufficient explanation
In reply to TobyA: Sure, I'm just struggling to follow the specialised ingroup idiom of her anthropo-academic microculture, or something
Ramblin dave - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:
It's an academic discussion. It is (on some level) trying to build up a detailed understanding of how and why people interact with each other in groups and what causes them to behave the way they do that applies to a wide range of different subcultures from climbers to ravers to railway modelling enthusiasts. This is quite hard, and standard english vocabulary is unfortunately no better at describing it than it is at describing quantum mechanics or the ins and outs of computer programming or the multitude of slightly different rock features that climbers care about, hence the need for a certain amount of specialized jargon.
Offwidth - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to TobyA:

I can listen to almost anything on radia 4 but that. You're right its like he is stuck in a time warp. I converse with humanities reserchers all the time so it is very much me and him and not me and his area.

On that point I see nothing wrong with the research article. I also know its current in the respect that people keep adding bolts to Joshua Tree trad bolted routes (supplementing often quite spaced bolts placed originally on lead .... or more likely their agreed like-for-like replacements these days) despite the risk to access this might entail. The excuse is nearly always to reduce risk.
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com)
> It's an academic discussion. It is (on some level) trying to build up a detailed understanding of how and why people interact with each other in groups and what causes them to behave the way they do that applies to a wide range of different subcultures from climbers to ravers to railway modelling enthusiasts. This is quite hard, and standard english vocabulary is unfortunately no better at describing it than it is at describing quantum mechanics or the ins and outs of computer programming or the multitude of slightly different rock features that climbers care about, hence the need for a certain amount of specialized jargon.

That's fine but her research was based on the US bolt discussion, and she was wrong to try and present this in a UK environment since certain key elements (not just her terminology) were wrong in a UK context. The key issue of bolting on lead being the most obvious one. I also felt that her characterisation of the ethics of the 1980s as this pure era where the clean ethic was started was incorrect for a UK point of view.

Alan
In reply to Ramblin dave: Yep. Not having listened to the actual show yet though, I'm not sure if she can explain the issue to a general audience on the radio though? There's an art to that as well, an art that some academics are excellent at whilst other are totally awful!
In reply to Ramblin dave: Yes, and no offence meant to any sociologists out there; my muscular hydrostat was firmly in my buccal cavity. It'd be hard to criticise anyone else's jargon, given that I voluntarily spent three years studying philosophy. About which it's hard to say anything worthwhile even if you know all the silly lingo
toad - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave: I think the journal paper is fine, as far as these things go - I don't speak the language, but the subject is well researched (a lesson to the endless purveyors of student questionaires - read this paper!)

But the radio piece was quite poor, and that is entirely LTs fault
In reply to toad:

> But the radio piece was quite poor, and that is entirely LTs fault

He must be approaching retirement age. There must be some young, engaging media savvy sociologist out there who can take over Thinking Allowed's reins. Please! :-)

Ramblin dave - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:
Fair enough - I was commenting on the paper, not the radio show.
Stig - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH: It's a tricky one, it all depends on why she decided to accept the invitation to talk (believe me any UK-based academic would jump at the chance to be on R4) and what knowledge she has of climbing in the UK, presumably they approached her and asked her to comment so it might be a bit unfair to criticise her for trying.

On a more general point It is very difficult to converse with US academics as even when we are ostensibly talking about the same field we use completely different terminology.
SteveRi - on 30 Jan 2013
Missed opportunity really, but I'll vote to keep Laurie Taylor on the squad. He might be ancient and fond of anecdote but he's still an engaging presenter and an asset to the beeb.
In reply to steveri:
> He might be ancient and fond of anecdote

I think all of his anecdotes need footnotes to reliable sources, because I still think he makes them all up! :)
GMCKen - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to TobyA: Agreed. I try to avoid Laurie Taylor, but unfortunately heard today's programme. For my money, although it didn't deal with bolts, Lito Tejada-Flores' essay on Games Climbers Play, back in 1967, was a far more interesting piece of work. It was reprinted in the AJ and can be read online.
Dave Garnett - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:
> (In reply to subalpine) ..and the Paper Abstract on which her interview today is based:
>
> The Bolt Wars
> A Social Worlds Perspective on Rock Climbing and Intragroup Conflict
> Lisa M. Bogardus
>
>
Whole article here:

http://jce.sagepub.com/content/41/3/283.full.pdf+html
Robert Durran - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to subalpine:

I think people are being a bit harsh. The study may well have been extremely interesting, but 10 minutes was never going to be long enough to go into it in any depth, especially for climbers who are well aware of the bare bones of the issue. And would it really matter that it is US-centric and that a few terms got muddles mid Atlantic?
Dave Garnett - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

I agree, even from a preliminary skimming through the paper it seemed to spot some valid points and did capture the key point that first ascentionists expect, and usually receive, some say in what happens to their route after they have climbed it in a particular style.

This seems so obvious to us that perhaps we don't see why this is interesting and surprising to others.

And old Laurie isn't so bad. He increasingly plays up to his old SCR buffer image but he's usually quite sharp. Admittedly, he did seem a bit off the pace in today's programme.
In reply to Dave Garnett: I've just listened to the piece, I thought it was fine and of course they weren't to know, but interesting in just how different the debate was in the US to here. I might have to send Laurie and email to inform him of this! :)

I still think he's deeply annoying though, and bet he never really went youth hosteling in Snowdonia. How many summits are signposted as he said? Academic careers have crumbled over such tall tales!
Bulls Crack - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:

17 interviews? 17? How did she manage to do so many....?
Howard J - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to subalpine: I wonder why she chose to interview only elite climbers, or at least climbers at the highest levels, and I wonder whether she'd have got a different response if she'd talked to a broader spectrum of climbers.

She seemed to accept the argument that trad climbing is elitist because it makes the routes unavailable to those without the courage to accept the risks. Perhaps that's true at elite levels, but it's not just top-end routes which are being retro-bolted. As an unfit, overweight, middle-aged climber I find sport climbing elitist - it concentrates on the physical and gymnastic elements, which I'm not very good at, and strips out most of the other aspects of climbing which I get most from. I prefer to accept a greater level of risk (although not much!) in return for a fuller experience, rather than engage in a purely physical struggle which will probably end in failure.
toad - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to TobyA:
I might have to send Laurie and email to inform him of this! :)
>
>
I think that's a splendid idea.
SteveRi - on 30 Jan 2013
Yeah, tell him UKC is on to him. That'll learn him.
Footnotes indeed :)
Robert Durran - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Howard J:
> She seemed to accept the argument that trad climbing is elitist because it makes the routes unavailable to those without the courage to accept the risks.

No she didn't. She just said that some people make that argument.
Stig - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Howard J: You are confusing (as many do) the difference between an activity only being accessible to an 'elite' (e.g. cutting edge sport climbing, certainly *not* all of what is labelled sport climbing), and 'elitism' - an attitude of dismissing those not in an elite group or actively propagating an elite through unfair means. By your definition you could easily be accused of elitism by those who don't have the physical ability to, say, climb a Diff in the commonly accepted style...

..the way those rules of style are set and 'policed' in a non governed sport being so interesting as the author is pointing out.
Rob Exile Ward on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to TobyA: He wasn't very interested in hills when he was my tutor 40 years ago! In fact he was quite rude and hurtful about a mate of mine on the radio a few years ago - how he couldn't imagine anything worse than being stuck in a lift with a fiddle playing rock climber, when Pete had just been his natural, enthusiastic and thoughtful self.
Dave Garnett - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett) I've just listened to the piece, I thought it was fine and of course they weren't to know, but interesting in just how different the debate was in the US to here. I might have to send Laurie and email to inform him of this! :)

I think he'd like that at. He always refers to the best letters. And I think he's now given up giving them a mark (never better than B+).
>
> I still think he's deeply annoying though, and bet he never really went youth hosteling in Snowdonia.

Yes, much talk of pitons being rattled. If it was in Snowdonia that must narrow it down a bit. Surely not even he's old enough to have run into Teufel's party on their way to Munich climb?
Jim at Work on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to TobyA: So am I approaching retirement, but I don't do intro's like his. I listened to most of it whilst driving to a depot, and he gradually began to show he actually understood some of it, after a truly awful start of 'Red Top' stupidity. As I switched the radio off I muttered 'ever was it thus' cos really, what is there to surprise anyone in the idea that there is a tension between bolters, retro-bolters, free climbers and sport craggers (in some cases)? 'dog bites man' :)
Howard J - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Stig:

>
> ..the way those rules of style are set and 'policed' in a non governed sport being so interesting as the author is pointing out.

I wonder whether the lack of a governing body makes much difference. There are plenty of examples of organised and structured groups disagreeing over something, often violently, and even if the governing body sets out rules to deal with it those who disagree strongly enough will just go off and set up their own sport/religion/cult/etc.

It seems to be inherent in human nature that people form very strong views, even about matters which fundamentally don't really matter, and will fight, sometimes literally, to defend them.

Can I have my PhD now?

Mark Bull - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:


Reading this reminded me of an old joke:

Mathematicians have second lowest equipment budget in the university: all they need is pencils, paper and a wastebasket.
Sociologists have the lowest budget: just pencils and paper.
Jonny2vests - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Mark Bull:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett)
>
> [...]
>
> Reading this reminded me of an old joke:
>
> Mathematicians have second lowest equipment budget in the university: all they need is pencils, paper and a wastebasket.
> Sociologists have the lowest budget: just pencils and paper.

I am so stealing that.
toad - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to jonny2vests: I've already stuffed it under my coat and shuffled out of the shop with it
tom_in_edinburgh - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Howard J:
> (In reply to Stig)

> Can I have my PhD now?

There's a roll of sociology PhD's hanging next to the toilet. Take as many as you like.

Robert Durran - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Mark Bull:
> (In reply to Dave Garnett)

>
> Reading this reminded me of an old joke:

> > Mathematicians have second lowest equipment budget in the university: all they need is pencils, paper and a wastebasket.
> Sociologists have the lowest budget: just pencils and paper.

The version I have heard used philosophy. Equally apt.


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